The Dukan Diet: Everything you need to know about a high-protein plan

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  • This French way of eating has a huge celebrity following. But, is The Dukan Diet right for you? Read on to find out...

    From Katherine Jenkins and Jennifer Lopez to Pippa and Carole Middleton, Dukan Diet recipes have a well-known fan base. Probably the reason it was the best selling diet book in Britain, when it was first released in 2010.

    A ‘breakthrough’ diet book by Dr Pierre Dukan, his low-fat eating, high-protein eating plan has been credited as being one of the diets that work fast for people that might otherwise find dieting difficult. And now you can eat gourmet food and still lose weight! Diet guru Monica Grenfell gives us the lowdown…

    Dr Pierre Dukan’s high-protein diet has been a favourite with French women for 10 years’ says Monica. ‘You need discipline to follow it: the rule is no fruit, no treats, stop drinking alcohol and no carbs for as long as it takes to lose your excess weight. Your reward will be the pounds rolling off. And now the new book with recipes by a Michelin-starred chef has made this a gourmet’s diet, too.’

    How does the Dukan Diet work?

    Dr Dukan devised the weight-loss method around 4 phases: two for losing weight, and two for stabilising the weight you get down to, all using a list of 100 ‘permitted’ foods from which you can eat as much as you want.

    The 4 phases are called: Attack, Cruise, Consolidation and Stabilisation. In the first two, you are limited to the 100 foods permitted, which are used to make up tasty recipes.

    Duken diet meal plan:

    Phase 1: Attack

    You start with 72 lean protein foods during Attack, including: steak, veal, liver, reduced fat ham, reduced fat bacon, cooked chicken or turkey slices, cod, sole, haddock, salmon, sardines, tuna, shellfish, virtually fat-free cottage cheese, virtually fat-free quark, fat-free yogurt, skimmed milk, eggs and tofu.

    First 5 days

    You kick-start your weight loss with five days of eating only protein on the Dukan Diet – from the 72 high-protein foods, plus 1-2tbsp milled oat bran a day for fibre.

    The Dukan Diet

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    In the first phase of the diet, you can eat high protein foods such as cheese, milk and yogurt

    Coffee/tea with skimmed milk
    Fat-free yogurt Dukan pancake
    -Stir 1½tbsp oat bran with 1½tbsp non-fat fromage frais, 1 egg, sweetener or salt. Cook for 2 mins each side)
    Serve with Dukan nutella
    -Mix 1 egg yolk, 1tsp reduced-fat cocoa powder, 2tbsp sweetener and a little water)

    Egg, smoked salmon and Dukan mayonnaise
    -Combine 1 egg yolk and 1tbsp Dijon mustard. Season and add 1tbsp chopped parsley or chives. Gradually stir in 3tbsp virtually fat-free fromage frais or quark


    Rosemary meatballs
    -Mix 1 diced onion; 750g minced beef; 2 crushed garlic cloves; 1 egg, lightly beaten; 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce; 2tbsp Chinese plum sauce; 2tbsp rosemary, 1-2tbsp mint or basil, all finely chopped; salt and black pepper. Shape into balls the size of a walnut. Cook in batches over a medium heat, for 5 mins or until golden. Drain away fat before serving.

    Lemon Mousse
    -Soak 2 gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for a few mins. Add 2tbsp sweetener, the grated zest of ½ lemon and 50g fromage frais to 1 egg yolk. Whisk, then warm in a pan for 2 mins. Remove and stir in the drained and squeezed gelatine. Whisk 200g fromage frais and fold into the lemon cream. Beat 1 egg white until stiff and fold in. Refrigerate until set.

    Phase 2: Cruise

    Then add the 28 vegetables during Cruise, including artichoke, fennel, onions, asparagus, French beans, aubergine, leek, beetroot, courgette, mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage, pepper, carrots, pumpkin, celery, tomatoes, salad leaves and swede. Follow until you reach your goal weight

    In the Cruise phase of the Dukan Diet, keep eating all the foods you were allowed on Attack, and add the 28 vegetables to your diet. The idea is to alternate days of protein only with protein and vegetable days. You stay on Cruise until you have lost all the weight you want to shed.

    The Dukan Diet

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    In the second phase, you can add 28 vegetables to your diet, such as beans, leek and broccoli

    Protein and Vegetable Day

    As Phase 1 (Attack

    Quick gazpacho
    -Poach 4 tomatoes in boiling water for 30 secs, then peel and deseed them. Grill 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper for 10-15 mins until charred. Place in a plastic bag to cool, before peeling away the skin and seeds and cutting into chunks. Blend the tomatoes and peppers with 2 cucumbers (peeled, deseeded and chopped) and some mint in a blender. Season and serve chilled.

    Chicken with mushrooms
    -Thinly slice 600g button mushrooms. Sprinkle over a few drops of lemon juice and put them in a non-stick casserole dish. Season, cover and cook over a gentle heat until all their water has evaporated. Drain and put to one side. Brown 1 chopped onion in a casserole dish in a little water. Add 800g chicken breasts, cut into cubes; 2 chopped tomatoes; the mushrooms; 2 chopped garlic cloves; 250ml low-salt chicken stock; salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a gentle heat for 20 mins.

    Phase 3: Consolidation – One night off a week

    Once you have reached your goal weight, the Dukan Diet moves on from the 100 natural foods to allow bread, pasta and fruit. You have one evening a week when you can eat whatever you like. Thursday remains a protein-only day to help you keep to your goal weight.

    Calculate how long you need to stay on Consolidation by multiplying every pound you lost by five, e.g., 7lb x 5 = 35 days

    The Dukan Diet

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    In phase 3, you’re allowed to eat bread and pasta again. Hurrah!


    • As much protein and vegetables (together) each day as you want.
    • 1 fruit a day – but not high sugar bananas, grapes, cherries or dried fruits. Watermelon, an apple or papaya are best.
    • 2 slices wholemeal bread per day, with reduced-fat butter.
    • One serving (40g) of hard cheese per day – avoid blue cheese, soft cheese or goat’s cheese.
    • One serving per week of ‘starchy foods’ such as pasta or rice in the first half of your Consolidation phase, increasing to two portions per week in the second half.
    • Pasta and tomato sauce. You may also have chickpeas, lentils, couscous, polenta and potatoes.
    • Relax a little and enjoy one night out or ‘special’ meal in the first half of your Consolidation phase, increasing to two in the second half. In this meal you really can eat anything you like!
    • Make Thursday your protein-only day.

    Phase 4: Stabilisation – Staying slim

    Congratulations, you’ve done it! So now you can relax and return to eating and drinking normally, but make sure that every Thursday remains a protein-only day to help you keep the weight off for good.

    Our chat with Dr Dukan

    We got a chance to chat with Dr Dukan himself, to find out why it’s one of the most popular diets in Britain, and whether it really does work…

    How does the Dukan Diet work?: The Dukan Diet is easy to understand, easy to do and you can eat as much as you like of certain foods so you’re never hungry.
    The diet is structured so in the first two phases, the Dukan Diet Attack Phase and the Dukan Diet Cruise Phase, you lose weight and in the second two phases, the Dukan Diet Consolidation Phase and the Dukan Diet Stabilisation Phase you maintain weight.

    Phase 1: Attack – the first stage is the attack phase, where for 2-7 days you can eat as much as you want of 72-protein rich foods.
    Phase 2: Cruise – next is the cruise phase where you continue to eat the protein rich foods with the addition of 28 vegetables.
    Phase 3: Consolidation – the third stage is the consolidation phase where you can add fruit, bread, cheese and starchy foods and two celebration meals a week.
    Phase 4: Stabilisation – finally, you have the stabilisation phase where you can eat what you like without regaining weight by following 3 simple rules: 1) Adopt a ‘safety platform’ using the basic foods from the consolidation phase. 2) Three tablespoons of oat bran a day for life. 3) Make every Thursday a protein only day.’

    Who should try the Dukan Diet?: Anyone that is looking to lose weight with direction and guidance and to be coached the whole way through. This is the reason we have the website to help give people daily support 24/7. You are coached everyday and have a customised plan with Dukan Diet recipes.”

    Why is the Dukan diet different?: People often ask me why it’s different and my answer is simple, it’s a life plan that works. There’s no calorie counting or excluding carbs and there is no hunger. The Dukan Diet is the only diet that has a stabilisation plan and a roadmap for a concrete future. There is also continual online support for people that struggle with dieting.

    Is the Dukan Diet suitable for anyone?: The Dukan Diet recipes and the diet itself are suitable for someone that has struggled with their weight for a long time, someone that has tried fad diets but wants a structured diet, guidance and coaching. Someone who wants to achieve dieting results in a healthy sustainable way.

    How easy is it to stick to? The Dukan Diet is incredibly easy to do and really easy to follow – there’s no calorie counting and no watching your carbs. People like to be coached when dieting so our online help works well. There’s an online community where people can chat to other dieters, get advice and share their stories.

    Is it a long term diet plan? It depends on the weight you want to be – you can use the free weight calculator on our website to find out your natural weight and the time it will take to reach it.

    How much weight can I lose on the Dukan diet? Many people have lost lots of weight on the plan and by eating the Dukan Diet recipes but it depends how much you need and want to lose. The main thing is getting to your true and natural weight and maintaining it. True weight can be calculated online for free and considers sex, age, height plus the maximum and minimum weight you have been in your life.

    Is it healthy? I’m a Doctor and have been one for 35 years and with that experience I know what is healthy and what works. All the food in the Dukan Diet recipes are natural and avoiding processed foods where possible will only benefit your health.No processed meats or fish. It’s like what we used to eat years ago, so it’s the healthiest diet possible.

    Are there any celebrity followers? There are lots of celebrities who follow the Dukan Diet – everyone from Jennifer Lopez and Penelope Cruz to Pippa Middleton to Katherine Jenkins.

    Dukan diet reviews

    Katherine Jenkins spoke to Wales Online about her time on the Dukan Diet. She said, “When I was younger, I did a lot of faddy diets – cabbage soup, and I did Atkins for a long time. It made me lose a lot of weight but I’ve learned that that’s not necessarily a good thing.

    “I’m now following the Dukan diet, which is a four-stage programme. In the first part, you eat a high-protein diet and after that, it’s all about finding a balance. I eat a lot of fish and vegetables, so it works for me, but my weakness is bread and chocolate.”

    Day-to-day, thousands of people are following the Dukan diet and reporting success. One fan said in an Amazon review of the plan’s guidebook, “I accidentally found an article about the Dukan diet and it sounded interesting…I did my research and read the book – I did some more researches and I though I would give it a go.

    “The first 7 days were the hardest – I missed sugar and carbs and I felt light headed on the second day but I did not feel hungry, thanks to the allowance to have as much food as I can. On the first week I lost 2.5 kg. I am on my Cruise phase only and so far I am very satisfied with the result. I don’t feel hungry and the meals a completely satisfying and filling.

    “I do have to use my imagination when creating food but as time passes, I am more and more creative. The reason I am giving this book/diet 4 star – is because of the amount of time I have to spend in the kitchen is MORE than I have ever spent in my life. The other “slight” problem is the cost – you have to plan your weekly meals well ahead before you buy your grocery as this diet is not the cheapest one and you can easily spend more than usual.”

    However, there are some who report negative side effects of the diet. TOWIE star Maria Fowler said the diet of oat bran and protein led to mood swings, headaches and hunger pangs, as well as bad breath and constipation.

    EastEnders actress, Lacy Turner also revealed that she wasn’t a fan of the diet, saying, “It’s so boring…eating as much as you want might not feel all that satisfying after meal after meal of poached chicken and steamed broccoli.”

    It seems like those who’ve tried the Dukan Diet report a mixture of success and unpleasant side effects, so if you’re thinking of taking it on, it’s best to be aware of all the details.